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12 Facts About Standard English
The first variety of English to be called a “standard literary language” was the West Saxon variety of Old English.
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Individual scribes spent whole careers in the mixed-language stage, with no knowledge that monolingual Standard English would be the eventual outcome and that it was in fact a stage of transition.
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Wright suggests that the reason for the abandonment of Anglo-Norman towards the end of the fourteenth century and consequent absorption of many of its written features into written Standard English lay in the socio-economic improvement of the poorer, monolingually Standard English-speaking classes over that century.
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When monolingual Standard English replaced Anglo-Norman French, it took over its pragmatic functions too.
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Supralocal varieties of Standard English which replaced Anglo-Norman in the late fifteenth century were still regional, but less so than fourteenth-century Middle Standard English had been, particularly with regard to morphemes, closed-class words and spelling sequences.
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Supralocal varieties of Standard English took on this uniformity by reducing more regionally-marked features and permitting only one or two minor variants.
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Standard English was not to settle into its present form until the early nineteenth century.
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Such multiregionalisms in Standard English are explained by the fifteenth-century countrywide expansion of business, trade and commerce, with linguistic elements passed around communities of practice and along weak-tie trade networks, both orally and in writing.
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Ekwall hypothesised that Standard English developed from the language of upper-class East Midland merchants who influenced speakers in the City of London.
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Standard English thought that upper-class speech would have been influential, although he suggested influence from the Danelaw in general.
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Standard English shifted Ekwall's hypothesis from the East to the Central Midlands, he classified late medieval London and other texts into Types I-IV, and he introduced the label 'Chancery Standard' to describe writing from the King's Office of Chancery, which he claimed was the precursor of Standard English.
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